The Footprint of Chinese Demand for U.S. Soybeans

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The Footprint of Chinese Demand for U.S. Soybeans
John Newton, Ag Economist - University of Illinois

One out of every four bushels of soybeans harvested by U.S. farmers last fall, if the trend continues, will be shipped to China. Todd Gleason explores how this happened and what it means.

Two University of Illinois agricultural economists…
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Two University of Illinois agricultural economists have measured the footprint of Chinese demand for soybeans. John Newton, along with Todd Kuethe (keeth-ee), say this one nation takes 13 bushels from every acre of soybeans produced in the United States.

Newton :28 …very large footprint in our soybean market.

Quote Summary - The Chinese are bringing in more than a billion bushels of soybeans a year from the United States. That’s more than the states of Illinois and Iowa produced combined. Their total needs from around the world amount to more than 60 million acres. Twenty-one million of those come from the U.S. This is more soybean acres than can be found in Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan. The Chinese have a very large footprint in the U.S. soybean market.

Large today, but twenty years ago China imported just 18 million bushels of soybeans from the United States, or 2 percent of U.S. soybean exports. Demand from this one nation grew from that meager amount to more than a billion bushels, 65 percent of the exports, because of double digit growth in its economy. This growth has slowed, and for some it is now a caution sign…but not for John Newton, yet.

Newton :42 …beans into China and crush them.

Quote Summary - The world bank is projecting the Chinese economy is going to grow at about 6.9 to 7.4 percent through 2017. This is greater than the United States. Their economy is still growing at a significant rate. They have just plateaued some in recent years. So, you look at the growth rate in the Chinese economy as one indicator. Another indicator is crushing margins in China. Part of the reason they’ve increased their consumption of U.S. soybeans is because they’ve increased crushing capacity in mainland China. So long as their crushing margins are favorable it is still possible to bring U.S. soybeans to China and crush them.

These projections support China maintaining soybean consumption at or above current levels.